Are New Year’s Resolutions Still Relevant?

If you want to motivate yourself to improve your life in 2022, setting New Year’s resolutions may not be the way to go. Here’s why.
During this period of uncertainty motivate yourself by goal-setting.

Each new year brings with it a clean slate and the possibility of positive change. Motivated and optimistic, we make New Year’s resolutions with the hope that our lives will be better in the coming year.

Ironically, this is one of the reasons why so many New Year’s resolutions flop ­– 80% of them fail by February, according to a US News & World report. We make resolutions because we are looking for a new experience, but are overly optimistic about what it takes to achieve them. And when we do not see immediate success, we get discouraged and quit.

How To Stick To Your Resolutions

The best way to keep your resolve is to set goals instead. There is a difference: goals include smaller action-oriented steps that help you to achieve a resolution. For example, scheduling time to exercise a few times a week is a step that can be taken to achieve weight loss.

Resolutions vs Goals

You do not have to wait until January to start. Changing habits takes time and preparation, says marketing professor Utpal Dholakia, so you could get a head start on your resolutions – or goals – by working on them in December.

Think of it as a trial period to test your resolve, better understand your goal and figure out what adjustments are needed to help you stick to it, and make your new actions a habit.

Creating Goals in Times of Uncertainty

Setting goals may already be daunting. Setting them during a time of unpredictability – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – may be more difficult or even seem pointless. How do we plan six months ahead if things could suddenly change next week?

In fact, the more uncertainty we face, the more we should pause and reflect on our life, according to Ms Judy Tan, a Lead Specialist (HR) with Nanyang Polytechnic and a Public Service career coach. “These uncertainties may require us to review our plan regularly to make necessary changes such as upskilling, broadening our horizons or adjusting our goals,” she explains.

Some ways you can set goals while still taking life’s uncertainties into account:

  • Focus on what you can control. Identify areas of your personal or professional life that you are able to control, then set specific goals in these areas by considering practical factors such as time and financial requirements.
  • Create short-term goals. Break down your long-term goal into several short-term goals. These can be as short as two weeks away. Setting short-term goals will enable you to adapt and adjust them to changing situations.
  • Plan for disruptions. Set flexible goals that are based on results, rather than time taken or required, and rank these goals in order of priority. This will help you to maximise your progress and minimise the impact of disruptions on your success.
  • Do not dwell on setbacks – it will only deepen your sorrow. Accept the situation, reflect on what you can learn from it and move on. “If we cannot turn the clock back, the least we can do is to move forward,” Judy advises.
Setting career-specific goals are just as important as personal goals.

How To Set Career Goals

Work makes up a significant part of our lives, so setting career goals can be just as important as personal goals for many of us.

No matter what role or industry you are in, you should always reflect on your career path every three to five years, explains Ms Low Peck Kem, the Public Service Division’s Chief Human Resources Officer. This will ensure you remain prepared for the future and attain the relevant skills and capabilities. 

For more career-specific goals, keep these tips in mind:

Assess your current situation. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this going where I want to go?
  • Am I acquiring the right level of skills and capabilities to get me where I want to go?

If you are unsure what to focus your sights on, it helps to think about where you are in your career journey.

In her line of work, Judy noticed that younger officers tend to be focused on planning for their careers and understanding various career pathways, whereas older officers were interested in improving their current roles and planning for new roles or retirement.

Set realistic goals. Set goals based on what your career needs, whilst taking your circumstances and options into consideration.

Broaden your network, both within and outside the Public Service, to better understand how your industry of interest is transforming with the times.

Keep an open mind. Even if you have a fixed goal, it is good to consider any new roles that may be assigned to you – you may even end up learning new skills or discovering new opportunities.

Whichever approach you take, it is important to remember that resolutions are about cultivating habits, not meeting achievements. The key is commitment, consistency and taking it one day at a time.

Take Up These Government Habit-tracking Challenges

Aiming to lead a more active lifestyle? Take up the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) National Steps Challenge. All you need is HPB’s Healthy365 app (or compatible device) and a fitness tracker.

Sleep and get rewarded with HPB’s National Sleep Challenge. If you can get seven hours of sleep every night, you will be rewarded with points that can be accumulated and redeemed for e-vouchers.

The LumiHealth app (a partnership between Apple and the HPB) puts the fun in creating a healthy lifestyle by gamifying habit tracking. You can complete personalised challenges, and earn points and game coins. These coins can then be exchanged for HPB e-vouchers.

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    Dec 14, 2021
    Hidayah Md Sham
    Liew Xinyi
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